How “Out of the Office” are YOU?

How to show up and sparkle at work – even when you’re on holiday.

“It’s the dilemma that’s so common now – when you’re “Out of the Office” just how “Out” of the office are you?

With the holiday season upon us, this is a timely way to plan your exit strategy and still look after your connections.

Having collected some ‘jaw-droppingly bad’ Out-of-Office bouncebacks over the years (best one: “I’m away from the office so contact me again on my return” – No dates, no alternatives, no clue) I thought it would be useful for you to use a simple structure for your email ‘Out of Office’ bounceback.

The simple-to-follow formula of Acknowledge/Inform/Guide is the most efficient and most helpful to the recipient. It’s also the safest bet to enable you to come across to your clients, customers and colleagues as professional, helpful and thoughtful – even when you’re not there.

Depending on how you’ve decided to manage being away, I suggest doing one of the following:

Read your emails regularly whilst you’re away, twice per day for example.

Have someone read them and then sort out the ones you need to read when you return.

Read them only when you return.

1. Reading your emails regularly while you’re away

  • Acknowledge: Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until Month, Date.
  • Inform: I’ll be reading and responding to my emails in the meantime and will do this twice per day.
  • Guide: If your message is urgent and you need immediate assistance, please email John Smith, Title, who will help you. You can email him at — or call him on 123 456 7890. Thanks again, Your Name.

2. Someone’s reading them, sorting out the ones you need to read on your return

  • Acknowledge: Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until August X.
  • Inform: My colleague, Jim Smith, Title will be accessing my emails during my absence and will ensure any requiring urgent attention, are handled while I’m away.
  • Guide: If you want to speak to Jim Smith or call him direct while I’m away, he can be contacted at —– or you can call him on 123 456 7890

3. Read them only when you return

  • Acknowledge: Thanks for your message and I’m out-of-the-office on holiday at the moment.
  • Inform: I will return to the office again on August X and in the meantime have no access to my emails
  • Guide: If you require immediate assistance, please contact Jane Smith, Title, who will be happy to help you. You can email Jane at jane@emailaddress.com ——- or call her direct on: 123 456 7890. Thanks again, Your Name.

There’s always a balance to achieve and to weigh up how your emails impact your time away is a decision you have to make yourself. There’s always a rub!

If you decide to read them and respond to them while you’re away, I suggest you agree you’ll read them and respond to them for a certain period of time, say an hour, every day at the same time. Plans can then be made around that and you can tell people when you’ll get back to them. Managing their and your holiday companions’ expectations too is key.

Help yourself by discussing this first with everyone you’re on holiday with just makes it easy for them to understand and let you get on with it. Trying to do it between trips or sneaking on to your smart-phone between meals just becomes stressful and can antagonise your family and friends. Much easier to manage their and your clients and colleagues’ expectation.

You may, or may not agree but this quote sums up the point here:

“Time for work – yet take much holiday, for art’s and friendship’s sake”. George de Wilde

So, I hope for your own art and friendships, you take much holiday.


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